Fergus Ryan: A medical degree is not enough to be a fight doctor
This week’s MMA column looks at the fantastic UFC Adelaide card. Unfortunately the event will be overshadowed by the final fight where Stipe Miocic brutalised Mark Hunt for four and half rounds as the officials sat idly by.
If you like finishes in MMA then UFC Adelaide at the weekend was right up your street. Ten of the twelve fights on the card ended ahead of schedule. Similar to UFC 186, the UFC event in Australia last weekend proved that you don’t have to have the big names on the card to have some fantastic action.
The one blot on the UFC Adelaide card was the main event, which is what everyone is talking about. On paper it was a potential slugfest but in reality it was a lopsided beating that went on much longer than it needed. Unfortunately, another fantastic card will be overshadowed by other stories. Just as UFC 186 took a backseat to Jon Jones and his misdemeanours, the action at UFC Adelaide will play second fiddle to the poor officiating of the final fight.
The Good Stuff First
Prior to the main event we were treated to some spectacular action. The card got off to a cracking start with a TKO finish in the final second of the first round by Ben Nguyen.
Alex Chambers bounced back from losing to Aisling Daly in her UFC debut and having a tough first two rounds against Kailin Curran to pull out an armbar victory in the final minutes of the third round.
Despite being taken down ‘Astro Girl’ recognised the opportunity as soon as she locked on to Curran’s arm. Tried as she might Curran could break Chambers grip and ultimately had to tap out.
The ever tough Brit, Brad Scott weathered an early storm to stop Dylan Andrews with a guillotine late in the second round.
Bec Rawlings’ rear naked choke finish of Lisa Ellis meant the Australian ladies went undefeated on the night.
Sam Alvey, Sean O’Connell and Robert Whitaker all built the anticipation for the main event with first round knock-outs.
Referee Greg Kleynjans showed some excellent judgement in the O’Connell stoppage against Anthony Perosh. Though Perosh staggered he never dropped off his feet. O’Connell continued to land bombs and Perosh was clearly ‘out on his feet’ being propped up by the Octagon wall. Rather than let the fight go on till Perosh hit the floor, Kleynjans stepped in to wave off the attack.
Robert Whitaker has looked awesome since dropping to middleweight. He now has two TKO finishes at his new weight class after making the move from welterweight. In besting Brad Tavares he finished a guy fighters normally don’t finish. If this win hasn’t done so, another victory will see him knocking on the door of the top 15 of 185lb’ers.
Robert Whitaker post fight interview and highlights
Alvey caused a little bit of ruckus with his advertising tactics. After a week debating the new pay scale fighters will receive when the exclusive Reebok sponsorship begins in July, Alvey brought a unique angle how sponsors could circumvent the new rules.
UFC officials were unaware that Alvey had gotten ‘#PerfectTan’ spray tanned on his chest. After a bit of wrist slapping UFC executive Tom Wright told the media at the post fight press conference – “Fighters definitely can't do that… It's against our policy. You can put your sponsors on your shorts, you can put your sponsors on your banner, but you can't put your sponsors on your body."
More responsibility required
In the main event 41 year old combat sports veteran, Mark Hunt had been riding a wave of good will that took him to a UFC heavyweight title fight last November. Famed for his toughness, Hunt came up short against Fabricio Werdum. To get him back in contention a good win over the super tough Stipe Miocic in front of his home crowd would do just fine.
From the moment the fight began Mark Hunt looked lethargic and flat footed. Known for his power, his hand speed and footwork of the ‘Super Samoan’ are usually to the fore as well. However, possibly due to a tough weight cut, Hunt looked pedestrian to a more spritely Miocic.
By the end of round one Hunt was exhausted. He had no offence bar a flurry at the end of the round. His walk back to the stool looked like a guy who had just gone five rounds, not five minutes. Unfortunately the writing was on the wall but not many were willing to read it.
‘Too tough for his own good’ is an excuse for not acting
After a one-sided second round everyone that was Octagonside should have been focusing on Mark Hunt’s safety. After ten minutes of fighting it was clear he was taking an awful lot of punishment and had limited offence to offer.
In the third round Miocic took Hunt to the mat and unloaded a high volume of strikes on a prone Hunt. For about thirty seconds, from top position Miocic hammered away at the head of Hunt. Referee for the bout John Sharp reminded Hunt that he needed to fight back. He didn’t. But Sharp didn’t stop the fight. Instead, Miocic got tired and couldn’t persist with the onslaught.
The numbers for the 3rd round back up how lopsided the fight had become. Miocic landed 125 strikes out of 149 thrown, most were to the head of Hunt. Hunt only managed to land 6 strikes out of 10. He round was at least a 10-8 for Miocic but in truth the fight should have finished.
In the first fight of the night Sharp dived in with seconds left in the first round to pull Ben Nguyen off of Alptekin Özkılıç. Despite the fight ending flurry only lasting a few seconds, the referee had seen enough. Yet the same referee watched for 15 minutes as a tired Mark Hunt played human punch bag for Stipe Miocic.
Sharp needs to look back at the tape. It was not the finest moment of his officiating career.
A medical degree is not enough to be a fight doctor
The fight doctor didn’t shower himself in glory either. At the end of the fourth round he interviewed Hunt on his stool during the break and asked him “Can you honestly see and defend yourself against a dangerous opponent?” Surprise, surprise… Hunt said yes and the fight was allowed to continue
The doctor then informed the referee that “he (Hunt) said he can see me out of his (swollen and closed) eye… If he starts to go offline, we’ll have to call it.” Far too little, far too late.
I don’t know the doctor’s background but I’m guessing he doesn’t sit cageside at regional Australian MMA shows. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t train in combat sports or has rarely if ever watched a sparring session. To take a fighter, after twenty minutes of a beating, at his word that he is OK to continue is basically abdicating his medical responsibility. The doctor put more distance between himself and the decision to stop the fight by teeing up the referee “if he starts to go offline, we’ll have to call it”. He should have added… “And by ‘we’, I mean you”.
Thankfully, Sharp did call the fight halfway through the final round. He again allowed Miocic to unload a barrage of punches before finally stepping in to end the madness.
A fighter that’s too big for his team
During the fight the commentary team alluded to Hunt having suffered during a bad weight cut in the lead up to the fight. While you can lay a portion of blame at the fighter’s door for poor preparation, you have to lay the rest of the blame squarely at those around him in his gym.
The first part of a fight contract that has to be honoured is the weigh-in. Fighters agree to turn up at an exact point in time weighing an exact amount of weight. It features squarely in all fighters’ preparation. Missing weight is disrespectful to your opponent and shows a lack of unprofessionalism to your approach to the fight business.
Mark Hunt is a heavy set guy but he’s 5ft 10in tall. Alarm bells should be ringing if a fighter of his stature can’t make 265lbs/120kgs. How much attention were his camp paying to his weight if after a 10-12 week period of training he still has a difficult cut to get down to the weight limit.
Worse still, knowing your fighter has stressed his body with dehydration and momentary starvation the best you can do in his corner is offer words like “Suck it up buddy, you’re doing great”. At no time during the fight was Hunt doing anything resembling ‘doing great’.
Kenny Florian was pretty surprised to see Hunt get off his stool for the fifth. Florian, a UFC veteran, knows as good anyone when a fighter is past the point of no return. “I don’t know him (Hunt) as well as his cornermen but I don’t think he should have come out for this fifth round” Florian offered from his commentary position.
At the end of the day no-one seemed to want to take responsibility for Hunt’s safety in the situation. The Australian referee, the Australian doctor and the Australian cornermen didn’t want to be the guy to pull Australia’s biggest name fighter out of the main event in front of a partisan Australian crowd.
It looks bad for MMA and the UFC but it had nothing to do with the sport or the promotion. This was human error and lack of responsibility on the part of the Australian officials and Hunt’s corner. This was a very preventable scenario. If lessons aren’t learned a more serious outcome could occur in the future.
End on a positive
Stipe Miocic looked superb albeit against below par opposition. But, you can only fight who’s put in front of you and the Cleveland fighter took to the task like an executioner. He showed a varied range of strikes and mixed in takedowns to totally dominate his opponent.
He was already ranked #4 in the heavyweight division going into this fight. His manner of victory may have nudged him up in the rankings.
His style is similar to current champion Cain Velasquez and could provide fireworks should the two meet down the track.
After Velasquez and interim champion Werdum finally unify the heavyweight title at UFC 188, Miocic is a genuine contender for whoever is crowned the undisputed champion.